Christmas food ideas

Great Christmas Food Ideas – Nov. 2017

Everyone from ‘Shipards Herb Farm’ and ‘Herbs are Special’ would like to welcome you to our new websites and newsletters – Christmas Food Ideas.

It’s hard to believe it’s nearly Christmas again. It has been a busy year for the farm. We have had many groups, families, couples and individuals visit the farm in 2017. It has been an exciting year.

Getting ready for Christmas can sometimes be stressful, especially with our busy lives. Are you looking for a thoughtful & unique gift that is within budget. A gift that provides information, tips and guidance for the herb and health conscious enthusiast. Medicinal and culinary Herb plants, growing, gardening & crop ideas; the best seeds to Sprout and eat and which weeds are edible and how to be Self-sufficient. Isabell Shipard books and dvds are great gift ideas.

Isabell Shipard’s books and dvds
Isabell Shipard’s books and dvds



We have new websites

Our websites have been completely redesigned.
Please take the time to explore what’s new.

Shipards Herb Farm website –

Herbs are Special website –

Herbs are Special  and Shipards Herb Farm websites

Shipards Herb Fram is now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest. Come follow our gardening & herb adventures!


Beneficial Plants

Some very beneficial plants that can be used both, culinary and medicinally, that can be used in meals over the summer and to specialise your Christmas dining.

Piper sermentosum  

Betel Leaf
Betel Leaf

Description: A very attractive spice, a fast growing, perennial, evergreen to 1 metre, with creeping stem branches, dark green, glossy, heart-shaped leaves to 15cm long. Betel leaf requires a rich soil and prefers a semi-shade position.  It makes a good under storey plant.  Regular feeding and watering will keep it growing very lush.  
Actions: digestive, stimulant, expectorant, carminative, antibacterial
Culinary uses: Betel leaf is a popular spice in south east Asian cooking, with the leaves being used raw and cooked.  A traditional way of preparing the leaves is as a wrapping for spiced minced meat and other morsels.  In Thailand, these wraps are a favourite snack, using an assortment of fillings, like peanuts, shrimps, shallots with lime and raw ginger. Because the leaves are so attractive, they are often used as a base for decorating platters, with foods arranged on top.  


A plant you may not be familiar with… yet
Gynura procumbens


This plant is well known in South East Asia, as a folklore medicinal, in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and the leaves of the plant are also eaten as a vegetable. Leaves have a mild flavour (some people say far better than spinach as a vegetable, while others say the leaves taste like green beans) and can be used raw in salads, added to soups, stir-fries, casseroles, condiments and sauces, rice dishes and other savory meals.
In Singapore, many locals value the plant for its benefit in stabilising blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and eat 3-7 raw leaves daily.
Leaves can be made as a herbal tea using 5-10 cut up leaves to 1 cup of boiling water, stir and leave to steep 5 minutes, drink hot or cool. Other herbs can be added to the tea if desired, like peppermint, lemon myrtle, citronella grass, etc.
Sambung leaves (bruised or placed in boiling water to soften them) are applied externally as a poultice, or made into a salve to assist the healing of numerous skin conditions.
The herb has been noted as an anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, anti-pyretic, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-ageing, and also has actions as a blood cleanser, tonic and diuretic.
When the plant is growing very well and leaves are in excess, feed some to laying hens, or grow some plants in a poultry forage system.

For more enlightening information on Betel leaf, Sambung or many other intriguing useful herbs and plants, please refer to the wonderful book “How Can I Use Herbs In My Daily Life?” by Isabell Shipard

Christmas Food Ideas

Here are a few Christmas Food Ideas you may like to try.


Vegan Shepherds Pie

Vegan Shepherds pie - Yum
Vegan Shepherds pie – Yum

* 400g Russet potatoes
* 400g sweet potatoes 
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion
* 2 carrots
* 2 cloves of garlic
* 2 sticks of celery
* 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
* olive oil
* ½ a bunch of fresh thyme
* 350 g chestnut mushrooms 
* 12 sun-dried tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* vegan red wine
* 80 ml organic vegetable stock
* 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
* 5 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (for garnish)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
2. Peel and chop all the potatoes into rough 2cm chunks. Place the white potatoes into a large pan of cold salted water over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender, adding the sweet potatoes after 5 minutes. 
3. Drain and leave to steam dry, then return to the pan with the olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mash until smooth, then cover and set aside.
4. Peel and finely slice the onion, carrots and garlic cloves, then trim and finely slice the celery. 
5. Optional: crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle until fine, then add all vegetables to a large pan over medium heat with a good splash of oil. 
6. Place in the thyme leaves, then cook for around 10 minutes, or until softened (do not over cook).
7. Roughly chop the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pan along with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato oil from the jar.
8. Cook for a further 10 minutes, then add a splash of wine, turn up the heat, and allow it to bubble away. Stir in the stock and chickpeas (juice and all, aquafaba, which is chickpea juice will thicken the sauce without having to use corn starch or flour), then leave to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened and reduced. 
9. Roughly chop the parsley leaves, then stir into the pan. Season to taste, then transfer to a baking dish (roughly 25cm x 30cm).
10. Spread the mash over the top, scuffing it up with the back of a spoon.
11. Place under the grill for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden, then serve with seasonal greens.

Vegan Shepherds pie
Vegan Shepherds pie

-Choose higher starch potatoes (like Russets or Yukon golds) for the fluffiest, smoothest mash. They also absorb flavours more easily.

-If making mash while potatoes are still warm, add a few tablespoons of water when mashing, as the evaporating steam will cause the mash to become dry.

-For a zesty top process a mixture of bread crumbs, rosemary, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix well, sprinkle over the mash, then place in a hot oven for around 10 minutes, or until heated through.


Lemon Grass punch

Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass

For summer drinks, make a big teapot of lemon grass tea to which you can add some honey, a splash of lemon, orange or mandarin juice or zest, ice cubes and chill. Enjoy during the heat of the day as a reviver or as a party or entertaining beverage. The chilled tea makes a practical base extender to a fruit punch when serving a crowd. Lemon grass and ginger makes a good combination for a tea, also try lemon grass and spearmint.


Carrot Cake muffins 

Reindeer/pretzel muffins – Get your little ones involved in the decorating!!
Reindeer/pretzel muffins – Get your little ones involved in the decorating!!

(truly delicious and wholesome)
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups self-raising wholemeal flour
½ cup of honey
3 cups of grated carrots
1 ¼ cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ of walnuts or pecans chopped

Grease muffin trays. Heat oven 180c
Beat eggs and honey until frothy with an electric beater. Add oil. Using a wooden spoon stir in self-raising flour and cinnamon. Lastly fold in carrot, nuts and vanilla. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check with baking skewer to see if still wet and uncooked in centre, if so a little while longer will be required.
Let cool completely before icing.

Carrot Cake muffins with strawberries
Carrot Cake muffins with strawberries

Optional cream cheese icing (finishes the muffins off perfectly)

4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)

3 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
250g icing sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese till light and fluffy, add icing sugar and vanilla and beat well.


Thinking of a New Years Resolution?

What about learning to ‘Sprout’
CHIA  (the sprouted seed even more beneficial for health)
Salvia rhyacophila

Chia seeds sprouting - honey chews and chia seeds
Chia seeds sprouting – honey chews and chia seeds

As chia is a gelatinous seed that forms a gel when soaked, sprouting in a jar is not practical, as the seeds go gooey and tend to stick together in one mass. However they grow well on a terracotta, clay saucer, or any other porous surface. Another method of sprouting chia, is to place the seed in a very fine, plastic sieve, with the weave smaller than the seeds. Wet the sieve, and carefully sprinkle seeds around the inside of the sieve, so there is an even layer spread over the bottom. Rest the sieve over a container that will support it, so that excess moisture may drain away. Gently sprinkle water on the seeds to start the germination action; then, 3-5 times a day, mist the seeds with water, using a spray bottle.
Harvest chia sprouts at 2-4 days, when 2-4cm long. Sprouts will have a warm, pungent flavour. Taste them at various stages of sprouting, to see what is preferred. Pungent flavoured foods help to discharge toxins and stimulate the circulation. When serving, mix these spicy sprouts with mild flavoured sprouts like mung beans, alfalfa or chickpeas.

Medicinal Uses
The calcium content of chia seed is 5 times that of milk. Chia seeds contain the trace mineral strontium, which acts as a catalyst in the assimilation of protein and production of energy. Researchers find that strontium has a strengthening benefit to cartilage, teeth and bones. Enzymes in chia, act as catalysts to aid the digestion of food.

Culinary Uses
Chia seeds are very tasty, with a nutty flavour, when sprinkled over meals. However, as it is difficult for the body to digest small, whole, dry seeds, unless chewed very well, it is recommended that seed be soaked in a little water (for several hours or overnight, to start the seed germination process) giving better assimilation, when eaten. Soaking is also beneficial, since vitamin C will start to be manufactured. When seeds are sprouted, the vitamin content multiplies considerably, sprinkle soaked seed over breakfast cereal or tossed salads.


This newsletter on ‘Christmas Food Ideas’ comes to you from Shipards Herb Farm ( providing you with fresh plants, seeds and dried herbal teas. As well as Isabell Shipard’s informative books and course DVDs. Which are all available at the farm. If you live local, or are visiting the Sunshine Coast feel free to pop in and visit the Herb Farm. We have been here for over 30 years serving our community.
Herbs are Special, provides you with free herb and sprout information and can help you with all your online book and DVD purchases too.

In signing off, Shipards Herb Farm wishes you a wonderful & safe Christmas and New Year. We hope to see you at the farm in 2018.
Happy gardening!


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